Politics

Report: Gingrich cashed in supporting subsidies for big business

Will Rahn Senior Editor

Since leaving office in 1999, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has spent much of his time convincing conservatives to support government subsidies for large corporations, reports the Washington Examiner.

In addition to his work as a “strategic consultant” for government-sponsored mortgage lender Freddie Mac, the Examiner reports that tax filings show Gingrich received money from the ethanol lobby.

Green Energy, a lobbying group that works to secure and create government subsidies for the much-criticized ethanol industry, paid the Gingrich Group more than $300,000 as recently as 2009. Unlike most conservative experts on the industry, Gingrich is a staunch advocate of ethanol, an expensive corn-based alternative fuel opposed by many conservatives due to its price tag and incompatibility — at high concentrations — with some modern automobile engines.

The Examiner reported that a source inside the pharmaceutical lobby alleged Gingrich was paid to help secure the passage of the Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2003. (Gingrich’s presidential campaign denies this.) Originally partial to idea of prescription drug subsidies only for the poor, Gingrich reportedly changed his tune after receiving funds from big drug companies who wanted all Medicare enrollees covered.

Sources involved with the companies’ lobbying efforts said Gingrich was on their payroll as a consultant at the time. Gingrich reportedly called Washington conservatives in order to sell the bill even though, the Examiner reported, it amounted to “a new federal entitlement.”

“[Gingrich] received a monthly retainer,” a former pharmaceutical company lobbyist said, adding that the former House Speaker’s price was “at the high end.” A spokesman for Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation declined to comment on specific contracts, but admitted they had clients that included “health care companies, hospitals and drug companies.”

During his time in Washington, Gingrich was famously critical of moderate, compromise-oriented Republicans. “But with clients ranging from subsidy-suckling ethanol producers to government-created backstops for Realtors and banks,” Examiner reporter Timothy Carney writes, “Gingrich cashed in by becoming the house conservative of the corporate-welfare state.”

When asked about the story by The Daily Caller, aides to Gingrich denied he ever worked as a lobbyist. “Any assertion Newt lobbied, was hired to lobby or it was hoped he would lobby is incorrect, false and misleading,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond told TheDC.

This story has been updated.

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